More Evidence that Reactionaries Hate Evangelism

The sort of mail I get from the Combox Inquisition typically begins with a “question” that seeks, not information, but ammunition in that oily sort of voice that used to ask “Tell us, is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar?” and “We caught this woman in the very act of adultery. What should we do?” and then hangs back waiting for the quarry to step into the trap. It drips with malice:

Below is a comment you recently made. Your vagueness prompts me to ask, are you saying it’s ok to receive Communion while living in a grave sinful state without confessing and repenting?

He means that holier than thou super-Catholics who spend much of their time demanding that the Impure be barred from the sacraments need to pipe down and accept the judgment of their pastors when they allow weak sinners to approach the Altar. He’s addressing a sort of latter day Jansenism that wants to keep as many people as possible from approaching the sacraments.

Note to reader: I was discussing Francis here and his encouragement of people to approach the Eucharist and not be slowed down by the Piety Nazis who think God died and told them to make sure people they deem unworthy of communion are barred from the sacrament. This is, among other things, due to the fact that Francis sees the sacraments as opportunities for encounter with God, while Reactionaries see them primarily as reducing valves designed to keep as many people away from salvation as possible.

I answered my reader’s “question” as clearly as I could:

No. I’m saying laypeople should mind their own business and leave such judgements about others to their priests and bishops. I, for one, have no idea whether the person in the pew next to me is in grave sin as a general rule. Nor if they have been to confession. I am not their personal Holy Spirit. Piety cops who appoint themselves tut tutters when they see somebody go up for communion are usually fake soul readers who should be attending to the log in their own eye.

Whereupon my reader sprang his attack:

Oh I get it. Don’t be judgmental…Right?
You’re a member of the church of nice…like Michael Voris says.
So, if you know that one of your “friends” is sleeping around, because he told you, and you say nothing …that’s better…yeah right.
That position, just like many “nice” clergy, will really help them get to heaven…you must be part of the I’m ok’re ok crowd.
Your thinking is a left over from your protestant days.
Get a grip on reality!

So many words in my mouth and none of them mine. I guess imagining you are rebuking somebody for things they never said is easier than actually doing what the Church teaches. This guy lives out the classic pattern of the Reactionary: attacking people who are obedient to Holy Church and in dissent from none of her teachings while doing nothing constructive and imagining himself competent to know which of the dozens of strangers in the pew around him is in mortal sin. The Church of Nice is an imaginary construct of Reactionaries. Fighting with it siphons off energy from the Church and devotes it to the worship of the cult of Anger. These people are auditioning for the role of Accuser of the Brethren when that role is already filled. The Reactionary mentality (which is, at the end of the day, arguing with Francis, not me) teaches its devotees to spend all their time attacking faithful Catholics while contributing not one calorie to toward the reform of the Church or obedience to its teachings. It goes in search of witches to burn, not converts to win. This guy’s rhetoric is a prime example of what the cult forms its disciples to do.

And of why that cult is not going to end well and eventually eat its young. Avoid it.

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  • Great post Mark! Keep them coming!

  • One of the scary things about having engaged in the warfare of Right vs. Left is that each side learns better how to wield the weapons of the other. Before long they’re barely distinguishable from each other, save that they mouth opposition to their opposite. I’m reminded of a number of scenes in the Lord of the Rings, all revolving around the One Ring…..

    • I think that this is called tribalism among the political scientists who are of the mistaken opinion that we 1st world nations have grown past that.

  • Andy

    I have never understood the whole judging thing that these folks engage in.
    A quick look in the Bible –
    Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get [Mt. 7.1-2].
    Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back [Lk. 6:37-38].
    I don’t see this as not admonishing people, hell I need it all the time.
    I see it as accepting people as sinners and trying to help them. I see it as saying God will look at us in the same way that we look at each other. Is that such a difficult concept?
    I see this tied into, and I repeat I see it, not that I am a theologian with Matthew 25 – when we judge each other we are judging the Lord, for he is present in each of us, and is working in us. It is our duty to help that person.

    I will probably hear, read that I am
    relativist or lacking in a moral compass or other so supportive comments.
    However, I am trying not judge people lest God look at me with the same
    critical eye, and see only my faults.

  • Andy, Bad Person

    I don’t know about anyone else, but whenever I hear what are so obviously bumper sticker slogans coming out in any argument, it just makes everything else sound like static noise to me.

    HuffPo liberals: Blah blah blah war on women bzzzzzzzzz

    Limbaugh conservatives: Blah blah blah drive-by media bzzzzzzz

    Voris reactionaries: Blah blah Church of Nice bzzzzzzz

    This content feedback hurts their message badly enough without all the backbiting, judgmental nonsense.

  • capaxdei

    “So many words in my mouth and none of them mine.” This is a sign of the pattern-matching people so often do instead of thinking. Once we’ve placed someone else into a pattern, we know everything there is to know about them — including their unspoken words.

  • Chatsworth

    We must not be judgmental. Unless, of course, we are judging reactionaries. In that case, let her rip. smh.

    • BillyT92679

      oh for crying out loud man

    • ivan_the_mad

      I shouldn’t think this a difficult concept to grasp. We aren’t to judge in matters about which we can’t possibly know – another’s salvation, another’s state of soul. But we were indeed commanded by our Lord to admonish the sinner. Perhaps you should think about this post of Mark’s and elementary catechism rather than rushing in to throw snark bombs.

    • chezami

      Oh look. A narcissistic butthurt Reactionary! How novel. Dude, we are absolutely to judge fruits and the ideas that produce them. But then you knew that.

  • ivan_the_mad

    This fellow needs to heed Francis and not set up some folk hero (or himself) as an alternative magisterium. If only Mark had loudly repeated this wise admonition now and again … Are hearsay and calumny now not vices when employed by the right sort?

  • $2346491

    Conservative Catholics who play Communion police annoy me. Please spend a bit of time walking in others’ shoes before you decide to judge.

  • AquinasMan

    Good post. I agree, there’s no need for us to be playing judge and jury when Scripture clearly states that those who receive unworthily are eating and drinking judgment upon themselves.

    Instead of forming a one-man posse, if you suspect there is a sacrilege taking place, pray for the salvation of that person’s soul (and your own!), because God will sort it out in His own time and way.

    EDIT: On the other hand, if there is blatant, irrefutable sacrilege taking place, I hope I would defend the Eucharist with my very life, but God will judge the guilty, not me.

    • There is the alternate route of filing a case. The Church has established tribunals for the rare situations where they would actually do good and if the Church provides a tool, I see nothing wrong with making use of it where appropriate.

      I’ve had to do that exactly once and, funny enough it was a case where my daughter was improperly denied the Eucharist. It never got past the first step which was to say to the priest that there seems to have been a mistake but if this is policy, a case will be filed, please investigate and make this right.

      The priest did. He told me he had to go all the way up to the USCCB because nobody at the intermediate levels was willing to give a definitive ruling and outlined a procedure to resolve the matter. It was an obscure inter-rite situation that when I relayed the solution to my bishop surprised him by being resolved positively. Apparently it had been a bone of contention for many years, the eastern Catholics had stopped bringing it up to keep the peace and the ground had invisibly shifted among the western Catholics and the whole thing had been kept going simply because nobody bothered being a test case.

  • Stu

    I’m not defending the comments from this bloke. They are rather silly in their assumptions.

    But that being said, has there really been a big issue of people attempting to deny other fellow parishioners the Sacrament? Admittedly I am but one man, but I have never seen that happen.

    Instead, isn’t the real issue that people are left confused by the notion of Catholic public officials very openly supporting intrinsic evils while at the same time claiming that they are Catholic acting in accordance with the Faith? Isn’t it really about Canon 915 which does not require reading or judging the hearts of others but rather responding to on objectively grave actions that cause scandal and error among others?

    • AquinasMan

      I agree there is a frustrating sense that the code of justice established by the Church is not being enforced for political and not pastoral reasons. In a way, I think it’s tempting to turn our animus on the person sitting next to us at Mass and verbalize our desire to take matters into our own hands on message boards and the like. There is also the sense that because the Church is not enforcing 915, we are witnessing a spreading scandal that we have no power to stop, like a slow motion train wreck we can’t get out of the way of.

      • rmichaelj

        My main concern with the lack of a response by the Bishops to obvious public scandal is the effect that it has on the souls of those who witness it- as well as those who commit the scandal. Especially in regards to my children who I have a direct responsibility to.
        My response so far is to teach my children (and others when appropriate) that while the Church’s teachings are infallible and while the Church is Holy- its members including the Bishops are not and can screw up just as much as the rest of us. I also teach that we have to respect the authority of the Bishop- even if we disagree with what they do to try and temper the natural inclination to disregard whatever a Bishop says if we don’t like him personally. If anyone knows of a better solution which helps me care for the moral upbringing of my children- I am all ears.
        In regards to private scandal- that is the job of the priest and immediate family/friends which know about it to try and correct. None of my business. Jesus expects me to carry a cross, he doesn’t expect me to carry every cross.

  • Adam

    But what was is Francis himself said (albeit as Bergolio) said about Eucharistic coherence.

    And quite frankly, Mark, the assumptions you make about people, tarring all who disagrees with you as reactionary, saying such people hate evangelism, etc., is a disgrace. You’re not God and can’t see into these peoples’ souls. You like the trumpet your credentials as an evangelist, Mark, but as someone who is a a convert let me tell you quite plainly. If I came onto your blog in my pre Catholic days I would be put off from the Faith by what you write. My advice for you would be to stop writing, or at least stop writing the stuff in which you feel the need to attack others. It’s not attractive, it’s no Christ centric, and it doesn’t bring people to Christ.

    • If you go into Mark’s back catalog you will see a few pieces where he frankly, almost nakedly confronts this tendency you identify and has the guts to call himself out on it. They’re truly great works.

      Alas, Mark Shea is not a saint and so like every other non-saint has his good days and his bad days. I visit for the good days and try to supply some counterpoint on the bad days. I don’t always manage that either.

      • Adam

        Yes, but then he goes and does it all over again. I mean piety Nazis… Come on… That has to be thought and mulled over, and we know that St Paul says that lets the Devil get a foothold in your soul. If writing causes Mr Shea to be uncharitable, then perhaps he ought to cut off that which causes him to sin and cast it into the fires. It is better to enter the kingdom of heaven without a blog than to perish with one, after all.

        • However did you figure out that Mark Shea’s blog causes him to sin? I would think that at worst it makes his sins visible, which is not necessarily a bad thing as it permits him both to attract the aid of his friends and also to acquire a lot more friends.

        • chezami

          It’s amazing the gallons of lugubrious tears people shed on behalf of judgmental Pharisees who are super eager to banish everybody else from the Church, compared with the bone dry desert of pity or sympathy said Pharisees feel for the people they so eagerly banish. If Reactionaries are famous for anything, it is their fathomless capacity for self-pity and their complete pitilessness for everybody else.

          • Adam

            And that is called the tu quoque fallacy. You’ve just admitted you’re content to be as bad as the people you attack. Shame on you.

            • chezami

              Nope. I don’t demand that Reactionaries be kicked out of the Church or denied communion. I simply point out that they are obnoxious self-pitying Pharisees who are to be resisted, not kowtowed to.

              • HornOrSilk

                It’s always the case: the reactionaries are free to judge and criticize everyone, but cry foul when they are put under any critical attention. It is, all in all, a bullying activity for them. And like all bullies, cry when their tactics do not work.

          • Stu


            It’s not about how THEY behave but about how WE behave. Nobody is defending their behavior. Nobody. What people have been trying to point out to you is that “fighting fire with fire”, no matter how bad the other guy is, isn’t going to produce any fruit.

            If you want to confound them, then respond to their ill sentiments with charity. Show them the Truth. isn’t Francis challenging us to do just that with EVERYONE? Is that “evangelization”? And aren’t we called to do that especially when it is personally challenging to us?

            • chezami

              I don’t fight fire with fire. I demand nobody be barred from communion or kicked out of the Church. I do point to erroneous ideas and odious behavior and say, “Don’t be cowed by these bullies”.

              • Stu

                Who are these bullies? Where are they? Are they in your parish? I don’t see them in mine.

                I would say “don’t be cowed by anyone” but more importantly, how do you respond? Is it effective in changing the minds of these “bullies” or have we written them off? I applaud going after bad ideas. But I’m not the only one who has given you feedback that you often stray into a “weapons free” style of rhetoric when a “weapons tight” posture is much more appropriate. In other words, I think your rhetoric often just continue the cycle instead of derailing it and/or redirecting it into something positive.

    • $2346491

      I’m assuming that you meant in Bergoglio’s book with Rabbi Skorka. Notice that he said that the person individually should evaluate if they are in a state of grace to receive Communion. (He also expands the sins beyond the sexual sins to sins such as exploiting workers.) He doesn’t say that Michael Voris or Joe Smith, the next door neighbor, or even the priest gets to deem that Jane Doe isn’t in a sufficient state of grace to receive Communion. I attend a Spanish Mass and noticed that many Latinos don’t receive Communion weekly. They take this very seriously.
      Bergoglio also mentioned that he doesn’t personally give out Communion so that notorious public personalities don’t get public photo ops. Argentine politicans, business leaders, etc. could receive Communion, but didn’t get a picture in the papers of them receiving Communion from the Archbishop. This is smart politics because it denies the sinner the endorsement and denies the Communion police the example to whine about.

  • Now for extra credit, go evangelize the reactionaries. They do appear to need it.

    • chezami

      I think Matthew 23 is what they need.

      • Stu

        And Jesus could certainly deliver that message.
        Funny thing about calling out other people on hypocrisy…

    • $2346491

      They won’t listen just like the Pharisees didn’t listen to Jesus. Voris and company are already the bestest, most pure, and most holy Catholics ever… Sarc off.

      • God could always make a miracle. To say that they won’t listen is to counsel despair. Despair is devil’s work. Try taking the lost sheep story a bit more seriously, would you?

        Jesus, I strongly suspect, knew exactly how few he would personally reach. Surely a crucial part of His message is to make the effort anyway, to try even in the face of long odds. Some of the best stories in the Bible are about the rejections, not the acceptances.

      • Question:

        How many have you reached out to, on an individual basis? Not playing internet champ in blog comboxes. I’ve asked that of Mr. Shea and several others as well. How many of their socials have you gone to? How many dinners have you had? Not the true jerks (most of them are beyond redemption), but those who legitimately struggle.

        That’s why we are still a self-referential church. We evangelize….. unless we don’t like the person or our feelings might get hurt. Then we retreat to our blog comboxes and thump our chest about how awesome we are.

        If you answer is more than zero, and maybe even 2 or 3 over the past 6 months, then by all means, disregard.

        • $2346491

          I’m sorry. I have a love-hate relationship with the Church because of conservative Catholics like yourself. I’ve been deeply scarred by my time in Catholic school. I was bullied so hard in junior high that I ended up with an eating disorder and a nervous breakdown. The good and holy Catholic school that I went to wouldn’t do anything about it because the bullies came from families that gave lots of money to the parish. I had to deal with the same type of showy pious princesses in high school who were oh so happy to tell everyone about their sexual purity and desire to remain substance free, but felt the need to mock and bully others. My parents were run out of ministries in their parish because of politics. I’ve dealt with overtly political priests who like giving fiery political sermons, telling people they are going to Hell, and yelling in the Confessional. My father’s priest even couldn’t be bothered to counsel and talk with him when his mother died. (That episode landed my father in the hospital with elevated blood pressure.)

          All the conservative Catholics feel oh so aggrieved and persecuted by the world at large and the American Church. I’m still trying to figure out which Church this is. I’ve never met a liberal priest or experienced a clown Mass in my thirty-two years. I have been to parishes dominated by conservative Catholics and their awful spawn who are oh so great about their shows of Catholic piety and their desire to show that they are so much better than that sinner over there.. the one who got divorced or who is obviously using birth control. Frankly, Father Z and Michael Voris and their commentators remind me of all the ugly characters I grew up with. I have no desire to engage them because I enjoy my mental health. I’d like to pretend we don’t even belong to the same Church.

          • Stu

            So the answer to his question is “zero.”

            I would submit you have a lot of anger. I would further submit that letting go of it would be a good thing for you.

            • $2346491

              Correct.. I don’t engage with toxic bullies in my life and I’m not sure what I would discuss.. The Masonic conspiracy? The fact that public schools are converting students to homosexuality? Or perhaps the fact that Obama is going to round up conservatives and stick them into camps?

              • Stu

                So you just evangelize to the choir?

          • In other words, what Pope Francis describes as a “self-referential Church.”

            We can sit here and swap pointless war stories about this or that bad interest group in the Church, and how they’ve wounded us. I could talk about the Bishop who told us we didn’t belong in the Church, and put a thousand restrictions on us. But who cares? He’s retired and has zero influence, and we’ve grown tenfold by our optimism and obedience.

            The difference between me and you isn’t who is or isn’t holier. It’s that I actually do my best to try to empathize and understand. I faced rejection just like everyone else. But I overcame it, and I overcame it by putting down the internet championship and handling things in a professional matter.

            One day you’ve gotta let the past go. That’s cool if its not today. but let’s not act like the problem is solely in the camp of the “reactionairies” when in reality, you are a kissing cousin of them.

            • $2346491

              Considering that I spent most of my twenties not attending Mass, I’m not sure how I’m actually part of the self-referential Church. I try to stay away from most engagement with the Church as a whole because it has been toxic to me. I just sit in the back at Mass and leave as soon as it ends. I’m not even part of a parish because I don’t need the toxicity in my life.
              And I win, unless the Church turned the other way while you were mercilessly bullied as a twelve-year-old and received mental issues. I doubt you did, so please don’t even compare “war stories” like me. I don’t desire to engage people like reactionaries because I don’t engage toxic people or have dinner with them. I ignore them.
              And I’ll let the past go when someone apologizes and gets the consequences that they oh so truly deserve. Until then, I have no use for fully engaging the Church.

              • The self-referential Church consists of those who views others as unworthy of being engaged for one reason or another. Most “reactionairies” are actually the same as you are. They lurk in parishes. They aren’t very active in them. They too have normally been wounded (to varying degrees) by Church authorities, and been rejected and excluded.

                I didn’t know we were competing and who “wins” and how said criteria is measured. You are free to think what you will about me and what I endured or didn’t growing up. I just know that one time I had a lot of hate, and one day I decided to let that hate go. Nobody ever apologized. There came a time I no longer required it.

                If we lived in a Church and a world where everyone got what they deserved, both of us would be dead, and would have been dead long ago. The difference between us is I long ago accepted that truth, and decided that a decade of bullying and rejection wouldn’t change no matter what happened. I could accept it or reject it, but it still existed. It didn’t happen in Church, but it happened a lot closer to home.

                Have you ever by chance considered that maybe you are just as toxic as they? Really, what’s the difference between you and the reactionary, other than you wear different hats?

                • $2346491

                  “The self-referential Church consists of those who views others as unworthy of being engaged for one reason or another.”

                  I don’t engage with bullies.

                  “Most “reactionairies” are actually the same as you are. They lurk in parishes. They aren’t very active in them. They too have normally been wounded (to varying degrees) by Church authorities, and been rejected and excluded.”

                  Again.. which Church are you talking about? The reactionaries control the Church. I’m still waiting to experience this vision of the evil liberal Church that conservatives have where there are only clown Masses and liberal Jesuit priests trying to make everyone gay. All the priests that I’ve met are either jerks or conservative jerks. Conservative Catholic laypeople tend to control Church ministries. Perhaps, once-in-awhile father might tell certain people “no” to something but that isn’t being wounded by the Church.

                  I think that the issue is that conservatives want everyone to worship like them and cannot stand when they don’t. Hence the obsession of Father Z, Voris, and others with Masses that they aren’t attending. How dare that person not attend the Mass by the rubrics as judged by me, the keeper of Catholic purity!!

                  “Have you ever by chance considered that maybe you are just as toxic as they? Really, what’s the difference between you and the reactionary, other than you wear different hats?”
                  I don’t care about the sex lives (and lives in general) of people I don’t know. I don’t believe in judging remarried people because I don’t know the circumstances of their situation and I don’t believe in judging gay people because I’m not gay. However, I cannot stand people who bully others and who enjoy demonstrating their piety to others. I cannot stand the fact that conservative Catholics feel the need to judge people in difficult situations and find them wanting. I cannot stand that they somehow think that they think that a specific obscure Mass form is holier and purer than the approved Mass form. (Ever think that the demand isn’t there for Latin Masses?)
                  If you were actually just sitting in Mass and getting ostracized for no reason, then I would agree with you but you aren’t. You may be running into problems because you are bullying others and demanding that as the purest and best Catholic you get catered to. Perhaps the priest is tired of laypeople who know the rubrics better than he does. Perhaps parishioners are tired of the whispering that goes on before Mass about how Sarah must totally be using birth control because she only has two children.

              • I confess that my sins have afflicted the Body of Christ, including you, and I express my sorrow for your wounds. That you still attend Mass shows that the Holy Spirit is still at work within you. Ask Him to draw out the wrath that poisons your heart so that He may fill it.
                I love and pray for you.

          • Elaine S.

            Diva, I hear ya loud and clear. Although I personally have never had a bad experience with a priest, or in a Catholic school, bad enough to turn me away from the Church (I went to a Catholic high school, that I enjoyed very much, after having attended a public K-8 grade school where I experienced considerable bullying), I know people who have.

            I have met some pretty liberal priests, and some really reactionary conservative ones, but I’ve never seen a “clown Mass” or a liturgical dance, nor do I see what’s so terrible about the Novus Ordo Mass when it’s celebrated properly. And yes, I am quite familiar with the fact that “money talks” in many parishes and Catholic schools.

            I read Fr. Z’s blog regularly; I’d say about half his posts I like and get something out of, but the other half just get me depressed, and some (not all) of his commenters are hazardous to my mental health. I don’t even bother with Michael Voris.

            We’re a church of sinners. Every one of us from the pews up to the Pope himself. Some sins inevitably get more attention than others.

            I think Pope Francis is saying things ALL of us need to hear. Yes, I cringe at how statements like “Who are we to judge?” or “Stop being so ‘obsessed’ with abortion” get taken out of context and used as clubs against the more conservative/traditional types. But ultimately, I think he is on the right track.

  • Thinkling

    Good post, with two comments.

    First is while your approach to the post does a great job of giving fair warning to faithful catholics who may be fighting (but not yet succumbed) to the Reactionary Temptation, it probably will do nothing to convince those already in its grip. If you wish the latter, our Holy Father is a great role model here. One of the gifts ++Francis has taught me is to realize that the best witness does not reach only the converted, but also (or mainly!) the unconverted, so I sympathize with your approach even if it can be improved.

    Second, just one factual quip. The Church of Nice is no fiction. It is very real (e.g., read Douthat’s Bad Religion). The kicker here though is its alternative is not the actual Church, but rather the Reactionary one, pairs of lies and all that. We really need to not underestimate the diabolism of that dichotomy: those who have bought either lie see faithful catholics as having bought the other one. And as faithful catholics we always have to be wary of both lies.

    • Dan C

      You would call me a member of the Church of Nice and hence diabolic. I think you should re-think the judgement you make on others.

    • Dan C

      Because, having watched the vitriol invested in fighting the Church of Nice, this makes us enemies. Love your enemies and all, but know that you wage the Catholic Wars with a vengeance. And that push back on Catholic terms is now the routine. It is not 2004 anymore.

    • HornOrSilk

      The Church of Nice indeed is no fiction. It’s the Catholic Church. Arius hated it, too. 😉

  • Eve Fisher

    Well, it could be worse: there are some churches (many Protestant and a few Catholic ones, depends on the priest) which deny children and babies baptism based on their parents’ sins / lack of church credentials / membership. I’ve never been able to figure that one out: (1) great way to NOT evangelize the parents and (2) great way to NOT welcome the children into the kingdom of God.

    • Stu

      Well, Canon Law has provisions for doing just so. Why not give priest the benefit of the doubt when they are faced with making such a tough call?
      Can. 868 §1 For an infant to be baptised lawfully it is required:

      1° that the parents, or at least one of them, or the person who lawfully holds their place, give their consent;

      2° that there be a well-founded hope that the child will be brought up in the catholic religion. If such hope is truly lacking, the baptism is, in accordance with the provisions of particular law, to be deferred and the parents advised of the reason for this.

      • Eve Fisher

        In the cases I know with the Catholic church, the parents wanted the baby to be baptized. The sticking point was that the parents (one parent was Catholic the other not) had not been married in the church. Another case both parents (married) were Catholic, but had quit going years ago because their parents had been divorced and hadn’t been allowed Communion for years and so had quit going and quit taking their children (the parents)… In both cases, I believe the current parents would have brought the baby up Catholic. But… the local priest is a stickler for rules, and a little abrasive… and the baptisms never happened.

        • $2346491

          Wow.. talk about anti-Evangelization. Did the priest hand out directions and church service time for the local Protestant churches down the street with his decision? The case of the children of divorced and remarried Catholics is especially sad. The children are choosing to reenage with the Church by having their baby baptized despite the Church ostracizing their parents and had the door slammed on them. What a wonderful opportunity to engage the couple in parish life missed!

          • Eve Fisher

            That’s how I felt.

          • Stu

            Wow. You bemoan what you call the “communion police” in the pews all while you gear up as the “baptism police”.

            If such things are none of our business, it works both ways.

            • rmichaelj


            • $2346491

              The priest is acting as the baptism police in this case. The couple has been away from the Church for many years because of the treatment of their parents. Despite that, they desire to have their child baptized. That suggests that they are interested in learning about and practicing their faith. Why not welcome them to the parish and provide them with information and Mass times. Or perhaps mention that Mrs. Smith runs a mothers’ group in the parish and provide the couple with Mrs. Smith’s number?
              As for the couple who was civilly married, perhaps they couldn’t afford a church wedding or their schedules wouldn’t permit it. Perhaps they have to work multiple jobs and couldn’t attend the classes. Maybe they just didn’t realize they need permission to marry outside a church. What a great way to engage them and suggest that they get their marriage blessed by the Church. Even if they refuse, perhaps continue to engage them in the parish.

              • Stu

                It’s the priest’s responsibility to administer the Sacraments.

                Not yours.

                Nothing more need be said.

                • Eve Fisher

                  If baptism is not necessary for salvation, then it’s no big deal whether or not a priest refuses an infant baptism based on the priest’s judgment of the infant’s parents. But if it is necessary for salvation – and almost all churches, including the Roman Catholic Church, say that it is – well, there’s a problem.

                  • Stu

                    What does Canon law say about that? And why?

                    • Eve Fisher

                      I don’t know what Canon law says about the eternal fate of unbaptized babies, but again, if baptism is necessary for salvation – which according to almost all churches it is – then the babies should be baptized. And with that, I’m done here.

                    • Stu

                      But you should ponder why Canon Law is written the way it is. Obviously it wasn’t just some random thoughts put on paper. There is reason behind it. Further, Canon Law doesn’t say that priest should always delay baptism of an infant in such cases but that he can for good reason. It gives him the ability to make a pastoral decision that is right for the situation. That’s a good thing.

                      Now should the emphasis be on finding a reason to “yes” in such situations? I would think so but that still doesn’t mean one approach works for every situation.

                • $2346491

                  And I’m sure that the priest in question would get a stern talking to by the Bishop of Rome for refusing to baptize the babies.

                  • Stu

                    Didn’t you say just yesterday, “I wouldn’t presume to be able to read the Pope’s mind. ”

                    You have no idea what the Pope would say for any given specific circumstance where a priest applies the guidelines set forth in Canon Law. Further, priests work for their individual Bishops, not directly for the Bishop of Rome.

                    Your issue isn’t with people acting as the Sacrament Police in principal. Your issue is that they don’t recognize that you are the self-appointed Sacrament Police.

                    • $2346491

                      Wow.. one of Pope Francis’ things is making sure that babies are baptized, especially the babies of single moms. He is on record forcefully on this point. I don’t think that he would be impressed if a couple who had a bad experiences with the Church growing up but decided to have their baby baptized was greeted with a slammed door rather than open arms.

                    • Stu

                      Again, you generalize and grossly so. He isn’t against Canon Law either (He is a “son of the Church”). What he speaks about is technique and pastoral approach. That doesn’t mean there aren’t instance still where the baptism should be delayed. Every situation is different which is why it best not to comment on cases when you clearly don’t know all of the details. Relying on hearsay and gossip is a recipe for failure.

                    • $2346491

                      By “son of the Church,” Francis means he isn’t going to start marrying gay people in St. Peter’s and discussing late-term abortions with Wendy Davis. That doesn’t mean that he feels bound by Canon Law or impressed by priests who set up their own little fiefdoms. (The sacrament of pastoral customs is what he calls it.) And I’m relying on the fact that the posters telling the stories knew that the situation was unfair.
                      As for delaying baptism, you know that this means that the child will never be baptized in the Church, correct? Why would the parents want to stick around in a place where they clearly aren’t welcome.

                    • Stu

                      Your assumptions and conclusions are just “off.”

                • You are in error, or I am. Where is the requirement that a priest perform a baptism?

                  • Stu

                    He is is the ordinary minister for baptism (Bishop and Deacon too).

                    Indeed, we can all go “home church” but that’s not really the point is it?

                    • I would appreciate if you do not stuff words in my mouth.

                      The priest has certain roles for which he is uniquely empowered and I do not suggest we take one mustard seed away from that. If a priest is improperly denying the sacrament of baptism, baptize.

                    • Stu

                      I have not stuffed anything in your mouth.

                      The point I have been making is that no one here is in a position to judge whether or not a priest is improperly denying the Sacrament of Baptism anymore than they are able to judge whether their neighbor in the pew is in a state to receive the Eucharist. Especially on hearsay.

                      If one has a problem with their priest, the proper course of action is to appeal to your Bishop.

              • Elaine S.

                “perhaps they couldn’t afford a church wedding or their schedules wouldn’t permit it”

                There is no law, civil or canon, that says a Church wedding has to be big, elaborate or expensive, or that it has to take place only on a Saturday between, say, noon and 3 p.m.

                Back in the pre-Vatican II days it was common for mixed Catholic-Protestant couples to get married quietly in the rectory with just the two witnesses and the priest present. Now granted, this was done because the Church tried to discourage “mixed marriages” and such couples were forbidden to have the ceremony in the church. However, I wonder if it wouldn’t be wise for priests to “advertise” this as an option for couples who want, or can only afford, a small wedding but wrongly assume that getting married in the Church requires an hour-long Mass with music, flowers, attendants, etc. and a fee of up to several hundred dollars.

                As for the fees, I can understand why big, beautiful old churches that get lots of requests for weddings from couples who don’t belong to the parishes may think it’s not too much to ask, say, $500 or so (in my area; your prices may vary) from a relatively affluent couple who’s going to be spending $20,000 or more on the wedding but hasn’t given a dime to support the parish. But, not all couples are in that situation.

                Ultimately, I think it comes down to an assumption that only stable, intact, middle and upper class families with 9 to 5 jobs are interested in attending Mass or receiving the sacraments, and that it’s no use bothering to reach out to anyone else.

                • $2346491

                  I went to my parish website and the fee is $500. It is a nice old church, but really isn’t a destination wedding place. Again, as you mentioned, it is not an issue for an upper middle class couple who is planning their dream wedding, but it might be an issue for a couple making minimum wage. The ironic thing is that my parish caters to a Latino population and most of the young adults and younger families are all Latino. I don’t think that there are many Caucasians under 60 who attend the Masses. Additionally, many of the families are probably here illegally, which raises a whole host of questions about how a parish deals with a couple (perhaps two Dreamers) who don’t have legal papers or access to their birth certificates.

            • Since baptism does not require a priest, baptism police seems an entirely pointless exercise. Sure, the priest can deny his personal participation but so what? It just means he ends up with the work of regularizing his new parishioner instead of inducting the little one using the regular route. It won’t be the first time this has happened. It won’t be the last.

              Suffer the little children.

              • Stu

                What does Canon Law say and why?

                • I am not a canon lawyer so since you can look it up just as well as I, go form your own opinion. My opinion is as above.

                  Suffer the little children

                  I do not believe that Canon law is against that. If it is, I beg you point it out.

                  • Stu

                    It’s not against it. Yet is still gives the priest leeway to delay the baptism of an infant.

                    “For an infant to be baptized licitly:

                    1/ the parents or at least one of them or the person who legitimately takes their place must consent;

                    2/ there must be a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion; if such hope is altogether lacking, the baptism is to be delayed according to the prescripts of particular law after the parents have been advised about the reason.”

                    Now application of that Canon is certainly a judgment call, but the Church does provide for it.

                    • It would be an interesting exercise for the parents to be informed of the particular law. Unfortunately, from what we know so far, this canon was imperfectly applied by the priest. He seems to have skipped the part about explaining the particular law (which might be diocesan or set at the synod level). Now it’s possible that the four people in the room with him did not hear him properly but, though possible, it does seem to stretch credulity.

                      The point of my intervention is that the Church should neither be over-clericalized nor should we disparage the vital role of the clergy. For things that priests traditionally do but don’t have to do, figure out appropriate safeguards against abuse and just do it. Don’t reduce yourself to the Kafka character who waited his whole life in front of his own personal door to get an unnecessary permission to enter. That sort of passivity is not what Jesus wants. It’s not what Pope Francis is calling for, and it’s not what is in the canons.

                      The laity should act within the proper limits. But within those limits we should act. Having somebody with a clerical collar improperly argue for laity passivity is no excuse for inaction.

                    • Stu

                      You and I don’t know anything about this case. We weren’t there. We don’t even know the priest nor have his side of the story. Further, even the godparents aren’t necessarily privy to every encounter between the parents and the priest.

                      This isn’t about reducing anyone’s role. It’s about demonstrating prudence on matters with which you simply you don’t have enough information to comment upon. Again, it’s between the priest and the parents. Not the godparents, not me and not you. Not anyone else.

                    • There is a term of art in US secular legal procedures called summary judgment. That is, when the prosecution has wrapped up its case, the case may end before the defense even steps up to present its side of the story if, by granting all that the prosecution says is true and adopting the most favorable reading of the facts to the prosecutors presentation, the standards of evidence say that the crime has not been proven. A summary judgment is entered and the jury isn’t even troubled with deliberating. It’s over. This is something of a humiliation for the prosecution. If you can’t get past summary judgment, you shouldn’t have proceeded with the case.

                      I think that it’s safe to say that this presentation gets past the summary judgment hurdle. Hearing the other side of the story may completely alter conclusions and after all carry the argument. I agree with you that no final conclusions should be rendered without hearing that crucial other side. But that does not mean that no judgments can be made. A tentative judgment that the complaint might have merit can be rendered.

                      I would encourage the family to research what the particular law is in their case. The bishop might have put out a rule that is tying the priest’s hands and the priest doesn’t want to point fingers at his superior. That’s admirable in a way but doesn’t help this child enter the Church in accordance with the parents’ wishes.

                    • Stu

                      This isn’t a legal proceeding. It’s people talking in a combox. No oaths, no rules of evidence, nothing. Passing judgment on such is neither prudent nor is it needed because it isn’t under our purview.

                      Of course the complaint might have merit. It might also not have merit as there could be much more to the story. But it’s not our business just like our neighbor receiving Communion isn’t.

                      Does it help the child in question? Again, not a question for us. It’s a question for the parents and the Church. Perhaps the priest should indeed err on the side of being open but also perhaps the parents have a responsibility to their child to change their ways because they love their child. Best thing we can do is just pray for all involved an stay out of it.

                    • I understand why I comment at all but given your stated belief I do not understand why you comment.

                    • Stu

                      Fair because I think you miss the point entirely given how you entered this discussion.

                      We have a post by Mark that reaffirms the point that we should be worrying about the state of our neighbor’s soul when they receive the Eucharist. Why? Ostensibly because we do not have the ability to judge such things nor do we have the authority to act on it anyway. Many posters here agree with that (as do I) and offer comment as such.

                      Then, some of the these same posters, while bemoaning the so-called “Communion Police” in the pews, then begin to discuss how they believe certain priests are wrong in their pastoral approach when it comes to baptizing infants and the very real question comes up regarding whether or not there “founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion” which as Canon Law says “if such hope is altogether lacking, the baptism is to be delayed according to the prescripts of particular law after the parents have been advised about the reason.” In doing so, they offer either gossip and hearsay to support their position or we are presented with only one side of the story and all from that we are to conclude that the priests in question must be wrong. All without even really knowing what in the wide, wide world of sports actually happened. All in the combos of a post with the premise that we need to mind our own business when it comes to our neighbor and the Sacraments.

                      Now look at Andy’s story in particular. It absolutely could have happened exactly like he said. And while I have no reason to doubt him, I have learned in spades while being in the Navy to not take one side of the story as absolute. Further, I have no authority in such a situation to pass judgment. None of us do. The only who can adjudicate that issue is the Bishop which is what should have been done and then we would have a much more solid understanding of the events. But we don’t. So to use it to besmirch the reputation of a priest, who isn’t here to defend himself, or priests in general is just plain wrong.

                      As I have shown, Canon Law calls for a priest to delay baptism if he feels that there is no hope that the child will be brought up in the Catholic religion. That’s the confines he must operate under. And indeed the stakes are high. But this isn’t some capricious law. There is a reason for it. And we should definitely understand that reasoning and contemplate the responsibility the priest has been charged with (I’m thankful that isn’t my call) before opening our mouths about how wrong it is.

                      Now personally, do I think priests should look for a reason to say “yes” in such instances. Of course. But that is something under their purview not ours. Best thing to is pray for them that they will make inspired decisions.

                      Let’s get out of the “Sacrament Police” role altogether.

                    • The Sacrament police are properly those who have a role in the sacrament. The role of the laity in the Eucharist is limited. It’s basically manufacture of the materials ahead of time, reception, and perhaps bringing them to the altar. So it is proper for the policing that the laity do in the Eucharist to be limited as well to the areas of their competence.

                      Baptism is different. There, the role of laity is backup to the priest without any difference in validity. Ordinarily the priest should do it but if the priest is not doing his job or is simply not available, the laity should not simply stand by and leave someone unbaptized where the Canons are fulfilled otherwise.

                      The difference in role creates a difference in obligation and thus behavior. Unless I become a priest, I can never create a valid Eucharist. I can validly and licitly baptize so long as I’m not muscling the local priest out of the role because he is, as you rightly point out, the ordinary minister of the sacrament.

                      Canon Law does not show what you claim though you’re pretty close to the meaning. You’re assuming that deciding whether there is hope is the priest’s call. The Canon does not actually say that. Who judges whether there is hope is a loophole big enough to drive a truck through and I sincerely doubt that the writers of the code omitted the word priest by accident or because they were running short on ink. I’m smart, but I doubt I’m smarter than the global synod.

                      In an urban area, the parents would just hop over to the next parish and work with a different priest. This is a rural area so they have to go with the backup they have.

                      I think that it’s pretty clear that chrismation is the step at which the clerics have their say. There, just as in the Eucharist, there is no ministerial role for the laity beyond the manufacture of the materials, at least as I understand it.

                      We all have our roles in the life of the Church. Occasionally it is, as you call it, “Sacrament Police” but only where it touches the roles where we have responsibilities. If some crazy priest started routinely using grape jelly for chrismation, I suspect that even you would do more than just shrug and say that it is the priest’s call and that we should not be “Sacrament Police”.

                      It is absolutely our duty to be “Sacrament Police” within our personal responsibilities. What the original correspondent with Mark did wrong was to impinge on a facet of the Eucharist where he had no legitimate role. To my eyes that is muscling in on a priest’s turf and absolutely not OK where there isn’t a provision for the laity to be backup. In baptism, such a provision exists and thus the difference. You not seeing that difference is the source of our (now long) discussion.

                    • Stu

                      “Ordinarily the priest should do it but if the priest is not doing his job…”
                      And in this case, that is between the priest and parents of the infant or the Bishop if needed. Not anyone else, even the godparents and certainly not those who have tidbits of the whole story.

                      And as the ordinary minister of baptism, it is the call of the priest (or deacon or Bishop) to make the call. Indeed, you can parish hop looking for a priest who agrees with you (same thing for receiving the Eucharist as well) or you can baptize the child yourself if you think that is the smart call. Though the later only delays the issue.

                      And if some priest started using “Grape Jelly” and I actually witnessed it, I would appeal to Bishop. But I certainly wouldn’t pass judgment on hearsay or gossip.

                    • I’m sorry but you are wrong. A priest who is not doing his job is a threat to the parish both in its spiritual life and its material life. Depending on how it is playing out, the threat can be slow or it can be quick but it is a general threat and one that is unlikely to only manifest itself in one area. The priest should be given great respect, wide latitude in how he accomplishes his vocation through the parish, and all the support he needs to move the flock forward. A priest that is derelict, however, can lead to the end of the parish. That is not a private matter.

                    • Stu


                      You keep missing the obvious here. You don’t know that the priest in question is not doing his job. You have hearsay.

                      Do this if you are really concerned or as an experiment. Ask Andy to tell you the parish in question and then you call the Bishop and complain that you heard about a priest not dong his job in Mark’s combox and that you believe that this threat should be addressed.

                      Now let’s assume the Bishop took you seriously given the origin of your concern. What do you think he will do? Take action immediately based upon what you heard or investigate in order to ascertain what really happened? Do you think he will put you in charge of the investigation as part of the “Sacrament Police” or do you think he has means to handle it.

                      No one is saying you can’t or shouldn’t be concerned. No one is saying that if you have first hand knowledge of something that seems wrong that you can’t either talk to the priest or even the Bishop. But in this case, and many others, you simply don’t have the facts nor the standing to take actions. It’s between the parents and the priest.

                    • I really tire of having words stuffed in my mouth. I never have suggested that any complaint be made to anyone regarding the refusal to baptize. If anything, my only complaint is that the priest appears to have not adequately communicated the particular law in that diocese which is almost irrelevant to the issue of baptism. That’s legal paperwork and not a sacramental issue. So why would I be interested in an experiment to take action that I do not support?

                      I just said baptize the child. And if I had personal knowledge and a real hope that the child was going to be raised Catholic I would baptize him myself and video the event to remove doubt as to its validity. I would then suggest that the parents ask the priest to regularize his paperwork. If the priest refuses that, then it is time to send a letter to the bishop asking why a Catholic priest refused to accept a validly baptized Catholic infant into his parish because that would, frankly, be very strange indeed.

                      Let the priest complain that I baptized someone, if he dare. He can file the paperwork and I’ll show up for the tribunal. It is a very unlikely outcome of the affair though, wouldn’t you say? What, exactly, would I be accused of?

                      That a priest is bereft of hope that a child will actually be raised Catholic is his business. If I have a well founded hope, that kid’s getting in the Church and if I have to do it personally so be it. The paperwork will work itself out.

                    • Yes, it’s not a legal proceeding. The whole summary judgment thing is a heuristic, a shortcut that the legal boys use to get to the truth faster. It works and does no harm. The effect is to exclude accusations that have not proven their point even without a defense chipping away at the claimed facts and logical conclusions.

                      Why you would not want to assist the not-present accused with such a heuristic is something I will not comment on.

                    • Stu

                      I’m well aware of summary judgment. I was a summary court martial officer while on Active Duty.

                      It’s just not applicable here in a combox.

                    • Summary judgment is a heuristic that is used in favor of the accused. I don’t understand why you want to give the accused, in this case a priest, a harder time.

                    • Stu

                      I am dismissing any comparison of combox hearsay and gossip to a legal proceeding in any way.

                    • Feel free to dismiss as you please so long as you don’t fall into the delusion that you are other than my equal and recognize that your dismissal is only binding on yourself.

        • Stu

          So there is no possibility that you don’t know the whole story and you are sure that the priest was just a “stickler”?

          I think it interesting that in a post that speaks about judging the hearts of people, we are all too willing to do so the priest.

          • Andy

            Stu – Let me I’ve you an example that I know well – it involves my son and his partner and their child. They went to a local Catholic Church, one that they attended when their work schedules permitted. THe priest refused to baptize their son for the following reasons –
            1. They had not regularized their relationship
            2. They child was born out of wedlock
            3. The mother is Hispanic and this ideally a ploy for her to stay in the country – her parents actually 7 generations back have been US citizens
            4. My son is large – 6’5″ about 220 with about 2-3% body fat, with tattoos, and works as a trainer in a gym, an assistant manager for a beach bar and security for another group who provides security for events and our son would not raise the child as a Catholic – even though our son explained that the reason the baby was being presented was what he learned in Catholic schools, form his family and as an altar server They are now married in a non-Catholic service and their son was baptized – both on Christmas Eve of this year.
            Your rush to preserve what appears to be the conservative church allows for no other experiences. Perhaps you should think about that.

            • Stu

              While that all may be true, before passing judgment, I would prefer to hear the priest present his side of the story. Seems fair, doesn’t it? We are complaining about judging others without knowing all of the facts WRT communion but we seem content to judge the priests in the same manner when it comes to baptism.

              I ‘m just looking for consistency.

              • Andy

                Stu – I as there as was the godmother, his sister, so there is no priest’s side of the story – once he stated his four objections he left the office. Having said that from the Catechism – 1213 Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua),4 and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: “Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.”5 and 1282 Since the earliest times, Baptism has been administered to children, for it is a grace and a gift of God that does not presuppose any human merit; children are baptized in the faith of the Church. Entry into Christian life gives access to true freedom.
                The disconnect is between Canon Law and the Catecism and “suffer the little children unto me”. So you feel that the law of man trumps the command of Jesus and ives lie to the Catecism. And then you ask for consistency.
                By the way had the priest said that he doubted that the child would be brought up a Catholic, I would have been angry, because he is making an assumption, but note that is nowhere in his reason.

                • Stu

                  No, there is his side of the story and he is not here to comment. Same courtesy that I would extend to you or any other man. I don’t pass judgment on hearsay or partial accounts.

                  There is no disconnect between Canon Law and the Catechism. Canon Law allows for priests to make pastoral decisions on such things for good reasons. It’s not just capricious. Does that mean they are always correct? Of course not which is why I don’t comment on specific cases. For Communion, that’s between the priest and individual and none of our business. For baptism of an infant, that’s between the actual parents involved (not the godparents) and the priest. And in the case of Baptism, the parents are always free to appeal to their Bishop and after that, to the Pope.

                  • Andy

                    Pastoral decisions are based on conversation, they are based on discernment, and they are based on being in life with the others Stu – this priest did none of these. By the way if you had read – the parents were present, not just the godmother and me. I mentioned we were there to obviate the hearsay argument.
                    The appeal to the bishop – lets put off the baptism even longer. The parents having been dismissed by the priest – when as I said he made his announcement – chose to go to another church.
                    I would suggest that Canon Law was cerated to prevent abuse – not to prevent acceptance. I am not judging the priest – I am judging his behaviors and impact it has had on three lives.
                    Having written this it is obvious that we will see things differently and so …

                    • Stu

                      Again, I’ve heard your side of the story. I have not heard that of the priest. Forgive me for not passing judgment on him or his conclusion without knowing all of the facts but I won’t do it. And further, it is none of my business.

                      That’s why I prefer to speak about this in general terms and not specific cases where I have no insight. It’s between the parents and the Church.

          • Eve Fisher

            Actually, I know one of the couples very, very, very well. And they were planning to raise the baby Catholic – if they could get the baby baptized. I also know, thanks to a number of Catholic friends, that the current priest – recently placed by the bishop – is hugely unpopular in this rural small town (where the Catholics are very solid Catholics) because of his abrasive, authoritarian personality. He doesn’t explain; he doesn’t ask; he orders. Among the things he’s ordered is one million dollars – on top of the regular contributions and Catholic school fees – from a parish of 1400 people, most of whom are making minimum wage. I don’t think he’s going to get it.

            • Stu

              So you know the priest or just what people say about him?

              How are things in your parish? Anything that you provide help on improving?

              • Eve Fisher

                You’re right, I shouldn’t have gone into those details. As for what I do – I pray. I listen. I try to be present.

                • Stu

                  Amen. Me too. There some more that I do, but getting those basics down is always a priority.

            • If you are convinced that the baby will be raised Catholic and that such a baptism will draw this family closer to God via the Church, baptize the kid.

              I’d recommend the sprinkle rather than the dunk. The latter’s a physically challenging maneuver sometimes.

            • On the fundraising thing, I am curious. Why does he want a million dollars? If it is a worthwhile path, his abrasiveness and authoritarian tendencies should not stop you from treading that road.

        • Neihan

          “I believe the current parents would have brought the baby up Catholic…”

          Based on what, exactly…? In both cases their attendance at Mass, their desire to be members of the Church, and their desire for the Sacraments apparently hinged not on Jesus Christ, nor on what His Church is, but on the personality of a priest.

          When our Lord gave one of His hardest teachings many left, and He asked those who remained if they too wanted to leave. Saint Peter didn’t answer “No, of course not, you’re a nice enough bloke!” but with a rhetorical question: “Where else would we go…? You have the words which give Eternal Life.”

          These parents responded with “Fine, we’re leaving, and we’re taking our children with us.” Which seems, if anything, to rather lend support to the priest’s position. I can’t imagine how such a response would be possible from people for whom there is a “founded hope” that they will bring their children up in the faith.

          Either way, it’s the priest’s solemn duty to make such discernments. Not ours. Nor could we possibly form a just judgement of the matter without knowing a good deal more – especially from the priest himself.

      • ImTim

        Canon Law Student here:

        2° does not read “well-founded”, but “founded” (spes habeatur fundata) But the really important part is later in the same section: Baptism is able to be deferred if the founded hope is “altogether lacking” So even if there is a slight hope, the child is to be baptized.

        • Stu

          I cut and paste it from Canon Law source but I don’t doubt you one bit.

          Nor do I dispute Canon Law. My point remains that the law gives the priest the latitude to make that call based upon his judgment, hopefully for pastoral reasons. Given such, just as we aren’t in a position to judge our neighbor’s state WRT receiving the Eucharist, we are not in a position to judge the priest’s judgement in this matter especially on hearsay and gossip. If parents disagree with the priest, they can appeal to the Bishop. The rest of us should simply butt out.

    • $2346491

      There was a semi-freakout on certain traditionalist websites about Francis baptizing the little girl of the couple who wasn’t married in a Church ceremony last week.. So this is unfortunately the case.

    • Dave G.

      Which Protestant ones?

      • Eve Fisher

        Well, there are a lot that won’t baptize a baby unless their parents commit to becoming church members; I’m sure it depends on the pastor, so I don’t really want to name denominations, although it seems to be a lot of them. I don’t like this because it’s blackmail, pure and simple. The parents want their babies baptized – and if indeed baptism is “generally necessary” to salvation, then it’s a major requirement and the babies should be baptized. And the parents would probably be much more apt to join the church or at least attend if their babies were welcomed in. At least that’s the way I see it.

        • Dave G.

          I guess there are only a couple Protestant denominations where it would even come close to meaning the same thing as it does in the Church. Many don’t baptize babies or children at all (at least until they’re older). Those I’m aware of who do, based on the ministers I knew, wouldn’t do that. Many who link baptism with membership, again, baptize older believers. So still trying to visualize, based on what I remember, who would do this in a situation that was in any way close to meaning what it would to a Catholic.

  • kirthigdon

    I’ve often wondered why, in the post-Vatican II era, some sacraments have been made more attainable (Eucharist, Penance, Annointing) while you have to jump through all sorts of extra hoops to receive others (Baptism, Confirmation, Matrimony). In the case of the Eucharist, the trend toward more frequent reception has been on-going at least since the time of St. Pius X and that is all to the good. But the others should also be made more accessible and perhaps Pope Francis is moving in that direction.
    Kirt Higdon

    • Dan C

      I agree. Stories of the hundreds baptized by folks like Francis Xavier, etc only could happen without an RCIA program.

      And marriage classes? Any evidence of efficacy? Probably not

      • Neihan

        Your point about Saint Xavier and RCIA is amusing; I’d never thought about that.

        I don’t doubt you’re right about marriage classes, but I find it difficult to believe a few hours worth of classes is honestly an adequate amount of time to genuinely cover the topics in any meaningful way.

        At my student center I’ve certainly heard plenty of teaching about social justice (in fact, near exclusively that) but I’ve never actually heard a sermon at daily Mass regarding anything to do with sexuality.

        I don’t really know that we should expect marriage classes to be efficacious if it’s the first and last time most people encounter the Church’s teaching on the subject of sexuality and matrimony outside of what we read in secular news papers.

        It seems a bit like genuine and meaningful marriage classes have not been tried and found wanting, but have been found difficult and not tried.

        • Dan C

          So…this whole business of conservative subsidiaries and that the charity should start in the home and God bless the family etc all fails with assigning the family with catechetical responsibilities and blame. Conservativism’s “blame the Church” for poor catechesis and inadequate education on sex is like liberals who “blame society.” I think the family should be teaching this. I think the public pulpit should be proportionately spent much like the Sermon on the Mount. It’s loaded towards social justice.

          The insistence on focusing on sex as the one and only sin that needs attention now is a distraction and has been the American focus of conservative religious since the 1970’s in both cultural and political environs. It has not been successful.

          In terms of effecting change in behavior, anyone who has worked with humans or human systems will say that education is the weakest of all interventions. These marriage classes are doomed to fail because education fails to effect change.

          What has effected change over Catholicism’s history? Community is likely the most important effector. Human contact and communal (real) responsibility. And, as is seen in Acts, the big deals there is money and charity and economics.

          • Stu

            Marriage Prep isn’t “doomed to fail” but instead it has lost it’s focus. It has tried to do too much.

            But before having the Church witness your marriage before God, a bond that cannot be broken, shouldn’t the Church perhaps take some time to discuss the ramifications of such a decision? Indeed the family has a responsibility. On that we agree. But I think the Church has some too.

            Even the Pope remarked about how many marriages today may not be valid because those entering into the commitment don’t properly understand it.

            • Dan C

              I think education and warnings have been shown in every other sphere of existence to have little impact on actions in America.

              • Stu

                Really? So simply abandon the effort?

                I had a Sailor working for me who was a fallen away Catholic. I invited him to Mass. He informed me that he couldn’t go to Mass because he was excommunicated.

                He was married in the Church and divorced (not remarried). I asked him where he got such an idea and he responded, “I just thought that was the case.” I asked if had any marriage prep with the priest prior to getting married. The answer? NONE.

                Whether that is true or not, I don’t know but it does go to show that some form of education was needed.

                As for the Sailor, he came to Mass, went to confession, and got back into things.

                Education doesn’t always take hold. But sometimes it does.

                • Dan C

                  When I mean education, I mean efforts to change folks’ behaviors. From smoking to improved patient safety, education doesn’t work. It really is a weak effector of change. How that functions for conversions, I do not know.

          • $2346491

            I think that Catholic marriage prep could be effective if the prep focused on the actual couple rather than a full day lecture on NFP and the subservience of women in marriage. For instance, problems that end up leading to annulments like substance abuse and physical abuse are there before the wedding. A husband doesn’t just wake up one morning and start pounding on his wife. It seems to me more one on one sessions to discern that the marriage is indeed a good idea and the priest actually saying “no” to a wedding with issues would be ideal. (And that no should be centered on actual serious issues like abuse, mental health, or perceived outside pressures rather than the couple’s birth control preferences.)

            • Rosemarie


              “Subservience of women in marriage?” Funny, I don’t remember that in my Pre-Cana at all. Nothing of the sort. And the NFP discussion was nowhere near a “full day lecture,” either; just a small part of the day.

              • $2346491

                One of my main annoyances with the Catholic idea of marriage is that women must submit to her husband and that he is the leader and gets a final say in all the decisions. It is quite a paternalistic view of women. I think that the Church would really help itself with women if it got rid of that little paternalistic phrase in its teachings on marriage.

                • Rosemarie


                  In his 1988 Apostolic Letter, On The Dignity and Vocation of Women, Bl. John Paul II said that submission in marriage is mutual, not just one sided:

                  “The author of the Letter to the Ephesians sees no contradiction between an exhortation formulated in this way and the words: “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife” (5:22-23). The author knows that this way of speaking, so profoundly rooted in the customs and religious tradition of the time, is to be understood and carried out in a new way: as a “mutual subjection out of reverence for Christ” (cf. Eph 5:21). This is especially true because the husband is called the “head” of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church; he is so in order to give “himself up for her” (Eph 5:25), and giving himself up for her means giving up even his own life . . . In relation to the “old” this is evidently something “new”: it is an innovation of the Gospel. [Mulieris Dignitatem 24]”

                  He later writes: “But the challenge presented by the “ethos” of the Redemption is clear and definitive. All the reasons in favour of the “subjection” of woman to man in marriage must be understood in the sense of a “mutual subjection” of both “out of reverence for Christ”. The measure of true spousal love finds its deepest source in Christ, who is the Bridegroom of the Church, his Bride.”

                  The more I read you talk about the Catholic Church, the less I recognize the Church I know in what you are saying.

                  • $2346491

                    And JPII stated man is still the “head of the household” and represents Christ in the relationship. Christ is more important and powerful than the Church and gets to dictate the rules. Similar, the husband apparently gets the final say over all important decisions in the family and gets to act as a leader. In fact, there is apparently a bestseller in Spain and Italy that was published by a submissive Catholic wife and suggests that Catholic teaching says that women shouldn’t work outside the home and men should be able to berate their wives on the house chores.

                    I personally don’t think that is what God intended; however, that is still in what you mentioned including JPII’s writings. Identifying the husband with Jesus puts him above his wife in terms of power and importance. Jesus as God still gets to dictate the rules for our own good. Identifying the man above the wife in such a way suggests that the husband paternalistically dictates to rules to his wife for her own good.

                    • Rosemarie


                      You are missing the fact that Christ is humble in his rule. The whole point is that He thinks and acts with the well-being of the Church in mind, not to inflate Himself at the expense of the Church. This is what a husband should do if he is to imitate Christ.

                      The identification of the husband with Christ and the wife with the Church comes from Sacred Scripture, which is an inspired revelation from God. So yes, that is what God intended, but not in the worst possible sense that you understand it. A husband is to be humble and show Christian charity, like Jesus.

                      Catholics write lots of books about lots of things. Some are good, some are nonsense and some a mixture of both. So a bestseller doesn’t impress me; show me official Church teaching, like the Apostolic Letter I quoted.

                      Christ said that whoever wants to be great in God’s kingdom must become the servant of all. Even as He came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life to save us. That’s the kind of servant leadership a husband should have, and the end result is a kind of mutual submission. This is in the spirit of the Gospel.

                    • Guest


                      Another thing you’re missing here is that the Christ/Church = human bridegroom/bride analogy is not an absolute, 1:1 comparison. There are some ways in which a husband is *not* like Christ. Jesus is greater than the Church because He is God, but a husband is not God Incarnate. He is a mere human being like his wife. So he is simply not “more important and powerful” than his wife in the way Christ is toward the Church.

                      The Church knows this, and would never demand that a woman show the same absolute honor and submission to her husband that we should show to God. In fact, that would violate the first commandment and so would be sinful. Your understanding of the Church’s view of this is flawed.

                    • $2346491

                      I don’t care that Jesus is humble in His rule. He is still God; Creator and His creation is an obvious power imbalance that shouldn’t be encouraged within human relationships. The Christian view of marriage identifies a human as God, who has the power and ability to rule over his wife. It is similar to a herditary king; just because a king decides be paternalistic and caring to his subjects rather than destroying him and bossing them around doesn’t mean that it is wrong to have one person with earthly power who can destroy others. Similar it is wrong to say that one person should get the leadership role in a marriage because they were born male. Both men and women (humans) should be equal in their roles in marriage and submit to and compromise with each other. Guys don’t get to pull the “I’m a man card” and decide unilaterally what is best for a family (even if they are doing it for non-selfish purposes.)

                      And I don’t think that JPII was at all a feminist based on that letter. I think that Francis is more of a feminist than his last two predecessors but he has made some unwise jokes and statements about women as well. Unfortunately, it is going to take awhile before the Church sees women as equals.

                    • Rosemarie


                      Another thing you’re missing here is that the Christ/Church = human bridegroom/bride analogy is not an absolute, 1:1 comparison. There are some ways in which a husband is *not* like Christ. Jesus is greater than the Church because He is God, but a husband is not God Incarnate. He is a mere human being like his wife. So he is simply not “more important and powerful” than his wife in the way Christ is toward the Church.

                      The Church knows this, and would never demand that a woman show the same absolute honor and submission to her husband that we should show to God. In fact, that would violate the first commandment and so would be sinful. Your understanding of the Church’s view of this is flawed.

                      From the official Catechism of the Catholic Church:

                      1645 “The unity of marriage, distinctly recognized by our Lord, is made clear in the equal personal dignity which must be accorded to man and wife in mutual and unreserved affection.”

                      2334 “In creating men ‘male and female,’ God gives man and woman an equal personal dignity.” “Man is a person, man and woman equally so, since both were created in the image and likeness of the personal God.”

                    • $2346491

                      Yes. A wife can defy her husband if he causes her to sin. One of my favorite saints, Perpetua, defied her father in favor of God the Father. This was revolutionary in the male centered Roman world.

                      However, that doesn’t mean that the Church was a egalitarian organization. The Church fathers were misogynists. Perpetua would have been condemned if she had defied her father or husband on something like how to raise her son. Even today there is a power imbalance. Husbands essentially get the final say over all the financial decisions, decisions on child rearing, etc. For instance, let’s say that the husband gets a new job that requires a move and he sincerely thinks that this will help out his family financial. His wife is hesitant to move the children. Per the Catholic teaching on marriage, the husband can pull rank and move the family because he truly believes this is a good decision. Of course, this is an Ozzie and Harriet scenario and wouldn’t fly in real life. However, that is still the husband’s right per Catholic teaching. He can do what he wants for the good of the family and his wife must submit to his will.

                      And yes men and women are equal in dignity. The king and the peasant both had the same dignity in the eyes of God; this is what the Church taught during the Middle Ages. However, for the longest time, there was the idea of the divine right of kings. The kings supposedly appointed by God weren’t especially gifted; it wasn’t a meritocracy. One man who won the genetic lottery got to lead. Same deal with a marriage. I’m not sure what makes men special in their DNA that they get to be in charge of all the family’s decisions. Why aren’t women allowed that? Or families make mutual decisions that everyone feels comfortable with.

                    • Rosemarie


                      All I can say is that your portrayal of Catholic married life doesn’t necessarily correspond to reality. I’ve been married for 21 years to a devout Catholic man so I know of what I speak. There are mutual decisions, the husband is not like some despot, and sometimes both husband and wife seek the expertise from other people as well to make decisions.

                      Just like some other strange remarks you have made that are blatantly untrue, like the idea that a pre-Cana discusses nothing but wifely submission and NFP all day. Have you ever gone to one? I did, and there was nothing about subjection and a little about NFP, but much of the day they talked about compatibility, how our families and upbringing influences our expectations of marriage and our spouses, etc. I found it very informative and useful, not at all demeaning of women or men.

                      How much of the Church Fathers have you read to decide that they despised women? I’ve read their writings, not just selective quotes taken out of context, and I can tell you that they also spoke well of women. Yet you won’t hear an angry feminist quote those passages.

                      It’s sad to see someone who has such a greatly distorted view of the Church. You’re just so angry it colors your perception with very dark hues. You’re not seeing the love of God shining through the Church. It’s just sad.

                    • $2346491

                      Of course, married life doesn’t correspond with the Ozzie and Harriet sitcom, but that is the Church’s teaching on marriage. The Church should change its teaching on marriage to reflect the modern reality of the family. Unfortunately, many Catholic men of my generation (30s and 20s) like the idea of having their wife being a homemaker who they can boss around. I’ve met quite a few including going on some awful blind dates. I actually won’t date practicing Catholics because of their attitudes toward women.

                    • Rosemarie


                      Sorry, but you are still presenting a caricature of Church teaching where the husband makes all the decisions unilaterally and the wife mindlessly obeys with no input whatsoever. The Church does not recommend or demand such autocratic rule, but I guess I’ll never convince you of that fact. You’re too angry at the Church to entertain the possibility that it might be reasonable.

                      And I’m not surprised some young men have unrealistic expectations of marriage; that’s a characteristic of youth. Maybe life will disabuse them of that. The attitudes of individual Catholics don’t necessarily prove anything, though.

                    • Rosemarie


                      I’m also puzzling over your description of the parish and school you say you attended. Priests yelling at you in the confessional, nuns threatening you with hell fire, the impression that husbands have a divine right of absolute dictatorship over their doormat wives. And all that during the 1990s? Had you said 1950s that would be one thing, but 1990s?

                      Did you by any chance live near or in a Charismatic covenant community? They tended to have abusive power structures based on the non-Catholic “shepherding/ discipleship” model and wives were in abject subjection to husbands. That’s why the bishops cracked down on them. Is *that* what you experienced?

            • Imrahil

              Marriage being a sacrament which the couple gives to each other, the image of a priest saying “no” to an otherwise licit marriage, for whatever good motive, is repulsive to me.

              • $2346491

                Actually, priests do tell couples “no” now or make them delay their marriages. That just happened to some friends. But it is generally because of paperwork.
                And I’m not sure why this is repulsive. Do you really think that priests should be encouraging people in abusive relationships to be married? I’m not sure why the Church should allow such marriages to go forward. If the marriage is licit, the couple is “stuck” with each other for the rest of their lives even if they hate each other or the relationship is physically or emotionally harmful. Perhaps getting a no will serve as a wake-up call for the couple that they shouldn’t be married. If not, when they do inevitably divorce, it will be easy for them to get an annulment.
                I’d actually like mercy for divorcees within the Church. However, I think that the Church could do a better job helping people discern up front that they aren’t meant for each other.

                • Imrahil

                  I didn’t say he should encourage them.

                  I meant that if they don’t listen to his warnings, he should – I’m inclined to say: somewhat has to – proceed to hear their marriage. I don’t mind if, as a weapon of last resort, he chooses to withhold the solemn wedding Mass or the solemn blessing. But as for marriage itself, the sacramental role the priest has to play is that of a witness, not of a decider.

          • Neihan

            I agree: it is the primarily duty of mothers and fathers to transmit the faith to their children, and when children are ignorant of the faith the people who bear the greatest guilt are the parents.

            Maybe it’s been your experience that priests and parish classes have focused exclusively on the Church’s teaching in regards to sexuality – specifically sexual immorality. It hasn’t been mine. In fact, in the years I’ve been a Catholic there has been almost no mention of sexuality at all. Either a discussion of its divine purpose, its place in our lives, or the right use of it.

            So I’m not sure where the “insistence on focusing on sex as the one and only sin that needs attention now” is coming from. Not from me. Nor, I can assure you, from any of the priests in my diocese whom I have ever met.

            My point is that maybe it’s a bit much to expect a few hours of teaching a few weeks or months before people are married to have much impact. The Church’s teaching on sexuality is true, beautiful, and good, and I’ve never personally seen it genuinely taught or even mentioned from the pulpit.

            • Dan C

              I do not involve myself with many education efforts at my parish ever. I attend Mass frequently. However, I cannot see how homilies would involve sex too much.
              In a given day, most folks are involved mostly in economic matters. Again, the Gospels do focus on this.
              Hence, the seemingly-disproportionate amount of time spent on social justice. It is like the Gospels. Because rightly ordering our society with regard towards justice would purify that activity we spend most of the day with-earning a living.
              The focus is proper. The Gospels focus on the work of discipleship, Luke describes discipleship in terms of the poor, from the standpoint of evangelizing poor communities. There is a segment of Catholicism that wants more sex education Catholic-style. Really, I am disinterested.

    • $2346491

      How about the issue with Confirmation? While it is good for kids to learn about their faith and be involved in the community, the amount of classes are quite a burden, especially considering that the teens are at that age where they have schoolwork and activities.

      • Dan13

        For what it is worth, I actually found my teenage Confirmation classes to be a positive (even though I did skip my fair share of them). I think it fostered, at the very least, understanding between teenagers who wouldn’t ordinarily hang out together. Honestly, I think it was the best experience I have had as a Catholic.

        I still find our 9th grade retreat comical (our parish had a two year program starting in 9th grade with Confirmation at the spring of our 10th grade year). Our parish was on the liberal side but our DRE accidentally signed us up for a retreat with the more conservative Catholic parishes. So we had to endure one of those 90s charismatic Masses (we thought people were faking it) and a priest who lectured us on the evils of, well, self-pleasure. We were so out of place it was hilarious. Good times.

        • $2346491

          I actually never was confirmed and have no desire to do so. I had very poor experiences when I was in junior high concerning bullies and had no desire to sit in a class with them. I have no time to sit in an extensive class now because I have work and other obligations.

          • Stu

            Perhaps you could give up time posting on blogs and devote it to getting Confirmed.

            • $2346491

              Umm… perhaps you shouldn’t presume? I frankly have issues with the Church still because it includes people like you. I just think that it is funny watching you guys whine about Pope Francis.

              • Elaine S.

                I was confirmed in 1977 (age 13) and my daughter, who is autistic, was confirmed in 2010 (age 14). Neither one of us really got anything out of our confirmation prep classes, if by “getting something out of it” you mean 1) actually learning something about your faith you didn’t know before, or 2) cultivating new habits beneficial to your spiritual life (prayer, penance, works of charity). For both of us it was just a hoop we had to jump through. The CCD instructors meant well and did their best, and I understand what they are trying to do (I was one myself for several years) — but ultimately I think it comes down to the environment at home. If the child belongs to a family in which the faith is respected and taken seriously, any prep class that doesn’t teach outright heresy will suffice. If the family doesn’t take the faith seriously and treats it as simply a cultural or social ornament, even the best prep class may not be sufficient.

                • $2346491

                  I was talking about it in terms of time commitment mainly. It does seem like it is a huge chunk of time, one to two year programs at many parishes. And it is during a period where kids are starting to get busy with homework, extracurricular commitments, etc. I have an aunt who is a CCD instructor and whines constantly about kids missing class for family commitments, travel sports, and school assignments. Not to mention the fact that 12-year-olds are apparently supposed to be mature and assertive enough to schedule their own community service projects. (Most service agencies won’t work with teens under 15/16 because of liability issues.) It seems to me that either confirmation should be done at a younger age or greater flexibility or understanding given.

              • Stu

                Well then just stop talking about how much time you don’t have and just say, “I don’t want to get Confirmed.”

                And be mature and don’t try to blame it on me. You don’t even know me and would do better spending some time offline getting to know yourself.

                As for Pope Franics, I like him

          • Dan13

            I know the girls in my parish were in assorted cliques but our overnight retreat in 10th grade lead to some healing and understanding among them. I’d like to think it was a permanent effect, but I don’t know.

            Junior high is such a poisonous time in peoples’ lives. A 7th or 8th grade Confirmation is probably not a good idea. Parishes should either go young (4th grade) or wait until the junior high tensions have eased a little. (10th grade or later).

            • $2346491

              I had to go on a retreat to graduate high school. (I went to a Catholic high school). I just made sure to get it over with when I was a junior because I didn’t want to miss school and make up homework. I got nothing from it and it didn’t ease tensions. Girls in high school aren’t any less mean; they are just craftier.

              And I was deeply hurt by the parish and priests’ response to the bullying situation. I’m a Catholic school survivor, so the bullying happened in Catholic school. I’m less mad that it happened than that the school actually protected the perpetrators. (I had a really bad experience in Catholic schools, but I had to go there because the public schools in my town weren’t that good.)

              • Dan13

                I went to Catholic schools too and the bullying was pretty bad (my confirmation class was mostly public school kids–most of my school classmates were members of other parishes). And the administration wasn’t too concerned about helping out the bullied kids and were almost overtly hostile to the “grunge kids”–to the point of encouraging them to leave (I was in high school in the 90s). Basically .they were mostly suck-ups to the sports programs.

                I did teach for a few years in junior and senior high and I can give two observations. First, as you know, girls can be very mean (I’ve always considered 8th grade to be the worst) but often the reasons for their meanness are totally arbitrary and we adults have trouble understanding why. That’s little solace and I think part of it is that bullies are so insecure that they feel in order not to bullied themselves that they must bully some other girl–usually an innocent–but they live in fear of the other girls turning on them. Thus, everyone suffers to some extent.

                Second, “mean girls” are very good at buttering up teachers to the point that they can disguise their bullying from the authorities.

                • $2346491

                  I’m likely your contemporary. Same deal with me in the 1990s. And the administration including the priests and nuns knew that this was an issue and did nothing because of the parents’ prominence in the parish. I was told it was my fault for not being assertive enough.

                • Rosemarie


                  I was also treated very badly in Catholic school in 7th and 8th grade. Though it wasn’t at a “conservative” parish; in fact the parish was rather progressive back then. The only nuns in the school were the principal and assistant principal and they were both very nice (though our Religion teacher was a former nun).

                  But the students were out-of-control and the lay teachers seemed unable to bring about any semblance of order. In fact, the only teacher who could keep them in line in her class was the ex-nun. I was shocked at how irreverent my classmates were; the kids I knew during my previous six years in public school had more respect for God than they did.

                  So although my experience in 7th and 8th grade definitely scarred me, I never developed issues with the Church or orthodox Catholicism as a result. I did develop a permanent dislike of Catholic school, however, which even a more benign experience in a Catholic high school didn’t alleviate.

                  So even a progressive parish can produce a bad experience. I don’t think it’s orthodoxy or “conservatism” that is to blame here; mean people come in different stripes and will be mean regardless. I was never berated in the Confessional or threatened with hellfire, but I ended up deeply wounded all the same.

            • kirthigdon

              I was confirmed in the 8th grade after a one year program and it was routine. This was pre-Vatican II. The programs I’ve encountered more recently, whether as a father or sponsor, have all been two year programs and a terrific hassle. They’ve also been in the 11th and 12th grades. They are run by people who are constantly telling the participants “you don’t have to do this” while making sure the requirements are sufficiently difficult that they won’t want to do it. As a consequence, many young people will drop out (in those grades they are mainly concerned with getting into college) and if they want the sacrament later, they will just join a parish RCIA, which is much easier. I often envy Eastern rite Catholics, who get Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist as infants. Catechisis can follow.
              Kirt Higdon

              • Dan13

                In many ways having all of the Sacraments of Initiation done at once would be easier. But I think the western church likes the idea of the Bishop visiting the parishes for Confirmation of the parish’s youth. Plus, I think many pastors see the First Penance/First Communion and Confirmation classes as opportunities to coax nominal, Catholic parents to become regular churchgoers.

          • freddy

            There are different rules for adults requesting Confirmation. I doubt even if your pastor wanted you to attend RCIA just as a “refresher” you’d find a lot of bullies. Most likely, your pastor would just want to make sure that you have a minimum knowledge of your faith (know how to make the sign of the cross, know the 10 commandments, the Hail Mary, a good Act of Contrition, the holy days of obligation for where you live) and a little bit about confirmation itself (what it is, what are the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit). He probably would not make you receive confirmation along with the local children or teens, but would likely confirm you himself at the Easter Vigil. So you’re probably looking at a phone call, maybe a couple of face-to-face meetings (unless you do need more instruction), and a fountain of Sacramental grace!

            • $2346491

              I have many issues with the Catholic Church stemming from many bad personal experiences with the Church, so I wouldn’t go through with it. I have heard that it is an issue with people getting married in the Church and it shouldn’t be. I do have a friend who decided against having a wedding because like me, she wasn’t confirmed and they told her she had to go through an eighteen month RCIA class to be married. She told them to forget it and had a lovely ceremony with a non-denominational minister instead.

              It is my understanding that most parishes require adults to take extensive RCIA classes and go through the normal process.

              • freddy

                Well, I think it would depend on the parish and the pastor. If you talk to your pastor and he realizes that you know your faith, there should be no bar to receiving the sacrament.
                You know, it’s kind of funny. You wrote about some of your bad experiences with Catholic education below, and its effect on you. Of course you realize that you’re not the only one to have these experiences. Mine started with an ulcer when I was in fourth grade, and a variety of stress related illnesses after that. But the funny thing is that everything I endured drove me closer to God and His Church and while I certainly have issues with Catholic education, I have found nothing but peace and healing in the Church. Please don’t think I mean anything offensive by that observation. It just struck me as interesting, how different people can be.
                God bless.

              • Allan B

                Why would you not want to take the classes and learn more about the faith, plus receive the graces of the sacrament? Work is more important to you than your relationship with God? I guess it’s your decision, you’re only hurting yourself, but it seems a strange ordering of priorities.

                • $2346491

                  I travel for work extensively; it is important to me because I enjoy being able to pay my bills. When I am at home, I just want to enjoy my life. I already spent time taking continuing education classes and MBA classes and am tired of having fixed meeting obligations like that at night. I can have a relationship with God in the comfort of my own home.

              • Elaine S.

                Unconfirmed but baptized Catholic adults have to go through an 18-month RCIA class to be confirmed? I’ve never (personally) heard of such a thing and I’ve also never heard of any RCIA class that lasts more than, say, 7 or 8 months (a single academic year from September through April or May). The most I personally have ever known to be required or asked of adults seeking confirmation is attendance at a single 2-hour class (announced in the parish bulletin) if they wanted to be confirmed by the bishop when he came to the parish to confirm the kids.
                My husband and his younger brother were baptized as babies, but their parents fell away from the Church shortly afterward, and they did not receive First Communion or Confirmation as kids. My husband received both while serving in the U.S. Navy, from a chaplain aboard his ship; his brother received both shortly before being married in the Church. Both events occurred around 1990. Neither had to go through any RCIA class or jump through any “hoops” other than consulting with the priest involved.
                I can’t help but wonder if your friend misunderstood or exaggerated what was being asked of her because it sounds totally out of line with anything I’ve seen or heard of being done, unless there have been really drastic changes in certain dioceses or parishes.

                • $2346491

                  That was what the priest told her. It is because too many Catholics don’t understand their faith supposedly. It was her husband who wanted to have the Church wedding anyway; she isn’t very religious herself but was fine with her more religious husband raising the kids in the Church.

      • That’s only an issue in the west because you’ve developed this idea of conditional chrismation applied at baptism. In the east, chrismation is not conditional so there is nothing to confirm.

    • Neihan

      Well, that seems the way it rather should be, don’t you think…? I’m always very grateful to be living in a time when the Eucharist is available daily, and Penance should, by its nature, be as widely available as possible.

      The other three, however, are things which utterly change the trajectory of our lives. They involve vows, and they change us forever. Baptism leaves an indelible mark upon the soul as we’re made members of our Lord’s Mystical Body. We receive and are strengthened by the Holy Ghost at Confirmation and are more perfectly drawn into the Church. Matrimony too binds us on earth in solemn vows to another person until death.

      It seems like the two categories are well divided (with Holy Orders being in the second you mentioned). The first being sacraments which we should make use of as frequently as possible, the second category being sacraments which we only receive once, are irreversible, and forever change us and our relationship with each other and God.

  • irena mangone

    Brilliant article and so true We have to walk a mile n the other persons shoes and judge not. It’s not easy but we must

  • I coined the concept “urine and vinegar wing of Catholicism” to describe these types. I liked it, but as part of the peace treaty of most writers dropping rad-trad, I had to drop the one creative polemical term I ever came up with. Oh what, doing what’s best for business. 🙂

    I always just ask these types how many people they actually confront when it comes to living in sin, or how many of their fellow parishoners they quiz about the sacraments before they receive them. The answer is always one. They are here to play internet champ, nothing more. In most parishes, trad or whatever, the priest would sit them down and have a nice long talk if they found out he was playing purity cop for the sacraments. He would tell Mr. Internet Champ that the job is to be left to the priests if need be, or the bishop.

    I just call the scrubs bluff, and they never see it coming.

    • Dan C

      I do not read you as often as I should. Have you ceased the harsher phrasings about liberals?

      • What “harsher phrasings about liberals” did I use? I really don’t cover current events or a lot of the factional stuff in my writings. I more just stick to teaching the faith, writing about the Latin Mass, TOB, etc.

        I don’t ask that as a troll question. I honestly didn’t see myself using a lot of harsher language against those individuals.

        • Dan C

          I need to read you more. I am sorry. I made the presumption that you used harsh tones in writing about liberals.

          • Oh I’m sure I have from time to time. I try on average to avoid it though. I don’t really write as much on the blog anymore, as my repsonsibilities at Catholic Lane as an editor really don’t give me anything to blog about. When I do write, it’s normally there.

            Also write every other week at Catholic Exchange. Look forward to your take!

  • ivan_the_mad

    “The cruelest master is the man who never learned to obey, and the severest judge is the man who never examines his own conscience. The man who is conscious of his need of absolution is the one who is most likely to be indulgent to others.” — Archbishop Fulton Sheen, The Rainbow of Sorrow

    • Nordog6561